What We Like
Encourages imaginative play
Knobs that turn provide realistic play
Big enough for multiple children to play together
Will last preschool through early elementary years
What We Don't Like
Lots of small pieces
Removable shelves and sink can get lost
Play food and utensils not included
Looking for a toy that’s both entertaining and educational? The KidKraft Uptown Espresso Play Kitchen is the answer. Play kitchens are a great way for growing toddlers to use their imagination and learn valuable skills and lessons. Even better, large sets like this can grow with your child through preschool and their early elementary years. We assembled the play kitchen in our own home and let our kids get to testing it so we could see what they thought. Keep reading for our assessment of the set’s educational value, design, ease of cleaning, and more.
Educational Value: Builds critical thinking skills through play
The benefits of imagination-based play are well-documented. Toys that allow children to engage in games of their own making, or to mimic adults around them, stretch both their imaginations and their reasoning skills.
After popping the KidKraft kitchen out of the box and setting it up in the living room, our kids instantly remarked how they loved playing “just like mom and dad.” The play kitchen has a lot of realistic features, including knobs that turn, doors that open, and hooks for utensils. This also meant that there were a lot of parts to assemble, which took a few hours.
Our kids instantly remarked how they loved playing just like mom and dad.
We recommend assembling the play kitchen out of the sight of your children as it’s a long process they probably won’t have the patience to sit through. At 43 inches in length, the KidKraft kitchen takes up a similar amount of floor space as a mid-sized coffee table. We set ours up against a wall because all of the features are on the front and side. This allowed our two children to play with the kitchen without taking up a lot of floor space in the middle of the room.
Aside from letting our two toddlers—20 months and 3 years—serve us imaginary dishes they prepared, we also used the realistic aspects of the play kitchen to teach skills. The buttons on the microwave allow them to work on numbers; various play foods mean they can compare colors and sizes; and different kitchen tools have them picking up new vocabulary words. The educational opportunities with this toy are really only limited by your own imagination.
Design: The appeal is in the details
From knobs that actually turn to a real chalkboard perfect for making a shopping list, the details that KidKraft thought through when designing this play kitchen are second to none. It’s a sturdy, nice-looking kids’ toy, with a chic countertop design and backsplash “tile.” Compared to other plastic play kitchens that can be an eyesore in the home, the KidKraft Uptown Espresso Play Kitchen looks more like a piece of furniture than a toy.
We recommend assembling the play kitchen out of the sight of your children as it’s a long process they probably won’t have the patience to sit through.
We particularly appreciated the little prep surface that sits to the right of the sink. Our toddler used this area to store plates while he “cooked” on the stove. When his younger brother joined him, having this extra space meant that they could both play without fighting over elbow room.
Entertainment Value: Hours of independent play
Young toddlers often require a lot of attention during their play, so any toy that leads them to play with more independence is a welcome addition in our house. Our 3-year-old played for almost two hours with minimal interaction or input from us. He cooked using pots and pans, put his “groceries” away in the refrigerator, and only occasionally came over for any sort of attention from us.
We were also more than happy to join our toddler when he wanted us to partake in his kitchen play. While many toddler games can get boring and repetitive, we all enjoyed laughing over the wacky combinations of food he thought up. Corn soup with croissants and carrots thrown in? Sure! And when he needed a little bit of prompting, we “ordered” something that he could then go to his kitchen to prepare.
Our 3-year-old played for almost two hours with minimal interaction or input from us.
We purchased play food, pots, pans, and utensils from KidKraft. These are available through most retailers but are purchased separately from the play kitchen itself. You may be able to find a good deal if you purchase the kitchen and play food as a bundle, but that will be up to individual sellers. You should factor in the additional cost of play food and utensils when deciding to make this purchase.
Age Range: Best for toddlers and preschoolers
KidKraft recommends the Uptown Espresso Play Kitchen for ages 3 and up. That said, we found that even our 20-month-old son was ready to “cook” using pots, pans, and play food. Our 3-year-old played much more independently, but both of them enjoyed their time in the kitchen.
If your child enjoys mimicking you and helping, they are ready for this toy. The great thing about the play kitchen is that as your child gets older, their play can become more complex. This is a toy our kids won’t soon outgrow.
Ease of Cleaning: Wipe with a damp cloth
It’s no secret that kids can be messy. The KidKraft Uptown Espresso Play Kitchen can be cleaned easily with a damp cloth. Plastic food and utensils are easy to wash in the sink or sanitize with heavier cleaners, if needed. The toy sink and all shelves are removable to make them even easier to clean. Our kids quickly figured this out and made removing them part of their play.
Price: Worth every penny!
With a retail price of $150, there are certainly less-expensive play kitchens on the market. But take into account the KidKraft’s quality and attention to detail, and none compare. Plastic kitchens almost always come in primary colors and they’re not as sturdy as the KidKraft which is made primarily of solid wood. In fact, we used to have a plastic play kitchen that quickly became a toy whose main appeal was that it could be knocked over. With the years of play that most kids get out of a high-quality play kitchen, this is a toy that will be well worth the slightly higher initial cost.
Keep in mind that it does not come with any play food, plates or bowls, or cooking items. KidKraft does make great accessories to be used with the play kitchen, which are known for both their high quality and their affordable price. These are also items that are easily found second hand and cleaned using food-safe cleaners in the sink or bathtub.
Competition: Kitchens of all sizes
Step2 Fun with Friends Kitchen: Step2 is another company that makes a large variety of toddler toys. Their plastic Step2 Fun with Friends Kitchen is a great example of the extra features that they put into their designs—hooks for cups or utensils, lights and sounds to replicate kitchen noises, even a place for the family dog to eat a meal. It’s also full of bright, primary colors that scream “kids’ toy!” though, and at roughly $85, it’s not a cheap toy. If you’re ready to spend the money on a play kitchen, we recommend spending a bit more on one that looks nice, is sturdy, and will last for years.
KidKraft Ultimate Corner Play Kitchen with Lights & Sounds: If you want an upgrade from the Uptown Espresso Play Kitchen, KidKraft makes a slightly larger and slightly more expensive version that is designed to fit in corners. The KidKraft Ultimate Corner Play Kitchen with Lights & Sounds has a lot of the same details with some new features, like lights under the stove burners and sounds from the ice machine. It does, however, require more space and is a bigger investment at $220.
Yes, buy it as soon as you can.
We can’t recommend the KidKraft Uptown Espresso Play Kitchen enough. Our children played independently and used their imaginations as they whipped up a flurry of dishes to serve us. Years of use—from preschool to early elementary—also means we’ll get our money’s worth.
- Product Name Uptown Espresso Play Kitchen
- Product Brand KidKraft
- Price $149.99
- Weight 61.1 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 42.5 x 17.1 x 41 in.
- Color Espresso and gray
- Warranty 90 days for manufacturing defects